'Massa Mark' reference by Clarke triggers Opposition walkout of Budget Debate

In an unprecedented move, Opposition Members of Parliament on Tuesday walked out of the closing Budget presentation of Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke.

The walkout came shortly after the Member of Parliament for St Andrew South Western, the People's National Party's Dr Angela Brown-Burke rose on a point of order after Clarke had repeatedly referred to Opposition Leader Mark Golding as "Massa Mark".

Clarke was taking issue with Golding, at a recent party meeting in St Andrew, referring to members of the governing Jamaica Labour Party as “damn fools”. That was after some Government MPs suggested it was sabotage by Opposition members that caused the Budget presentation of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to be delayed by nearly 90 minutes last Thursday after a microphone malfunction.

As Brown-Burke stood on her feet and repeated to House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert that she wanted to speak on a point of order, Clarke continued his speech.

Brown-Burke then responded to a government member with “shut yuh mouth”, forcing Leader of Government Business, Edmund Bartlett to rise to his feet on a point of order. He declared that Brown-Burke’s language was "unparliamentary" and the Speaker concurred.

Brown-Burke insisted that she would not be “beaten over the head” by the Speaker and refused to withdraw the statement while declaring Clarke’s repeated reference to Golding as Massa Mark as "unparliamentary language".

Member of Parliament for St Ann South East, Lisa Hanna, who also rose on a point of order, told the Speaker that Brown-Burke was responding to sotto voce comments from a government member who stated that Golding “is the descendant of a slave master”.

Dalrymple-Philibert claimed she did not hear the statement so she could not rule on the matter. Bartlett did not say whether he heard the statement while insisting that Brown-Burke’s language was unparliamentary.

The Opposition walkout was led by Golding. Clarke has continued his closing presentation.

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